Have you ever been excited to buy a brand new car only to find out that the added taxes, insurance and other fees bumped you well over the “sticker price”? This leads to car owners getting behind on their auto payments and wondering what they can do to get out of the situation.
Can you relate? Do you simply want to take the car back to the dealership and forget about it? What happens if you can no longer afford the car payments and want to return it to the dealership?
Here are the exact steps you can take.
1. Come to Grips With the Numbers
Some experts say that your auto expense, which includes your car payment, maintenance, and insurance, should not be more than 15-20% of your take-home pay. If your outgoing expenses total more than that, your best bet is to confront the situation head-on and evaluate the solutions.
Take a look at your budget and see where you can cut back on other expenses like eating out, entertainment and frivolous spending. Is there something you can do to increase your income to generate more revenue to catch up on your auto payments?
Check your rate on a debt-consolidation loan (you can check your rate without hurting your credit using ReadyForZero’s tool). Can you get a reduced rate on your existing loans or lower your monthly payments?
See if you qualify for better terms on an auto loan. You can find the loans we recommend on our site here.
If you’ve done all you can and you still can’t make the payments on your car, there are several actions you can take:
2. Go Back to the Car Dealer
The first option is to head back to the dealer and see if you can trade in your current vehicle for a less expensive one. You can generally get a great deal on a nice used car that won’t have a huge price tag attached to it.
Thankfully, some car brands and states have friendly return policies, but there’s a chance you’ll still lose out due to the value of a new car depreciating so quickly. You may not get the full amount of what you paid for the car, which means you’ll be responsible for paying off the remaining loan balance yourself.
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3. Sell the Vehicle Privately
Another smart option is to sell the car privately to a colleague or friend, so you can get more money to pay off the large car loan. Most of the time you get a higher price for the vehicle by selling it directly to an individual, than you would if you sold it back to the dealership.
If you still have a remaining balance on the car loan after selling it privately, you could consider taking out a personal loan from a local bank or credit union. This isn’t the best scenario but it’s a smart solution considering the circumstances.
4. Find Someone to Take Over the Payments
Lastly, put out the word that you’re looking for someone to take over the car payments. Do an online search for anyone looking to relieve you of the auto loan balance. Then advertise on sites like Craigslist or eBay Motors to find potential buyers.
This method could save you a lot of hassle of dealing with creditors and the original lender, while allowing you to get rid of the budget-busting car payments. All you have to do is both agree to refinance the auto loan into the name of the new buyer, and you’re all set.
5. Do a Voluntary Repossession
If you’ve exhausted the above options, there’s one last-ditch thing you can do; a voluntary repossession.
A voluntary repossession is where you voluntarily surrender your vehicle (or other property) that’s connected to a loan, in to the lender where you financed the purchase. This generally occurs when you have fallen behind so far in payments that it’s the only option available. This will keep you from having to face creditors and other legal action in the future.
To voluntarily surrender your vehicle to the original lender, you first have to contact the creditor to explain your decision. Let them know you can no longer make payments and wish to surrender the vehicle. Once you’ve let the creditor know about the situation, they will verify the location where you can drop off the car, as well as the details for processing the repossession.
Don’t be surprised, however, if they try to talk you out of doing a voluntary repossession, since they want to continue making money off your loan. Many times they will offer ideas on how you can afford the car, as well as strategies to make the payments on time.
While you may find this helpful, if you truly can’t afford to keep the vehicle then stand your ground and go forward with the voluntary repossession. But before doing so, make sure you understand the entire process:
Will a voluntary repossession affect your credit? Yes, a voluntary repossession affects your credit rating the same way a regular repossession process would. So don’t be surprised if you see your credit score fluctuate during this time period.
Will you still owe money if you turn in the car? If the car depreciates in value to where you owe more on the loan than what the car is worth, yes, you’ll have to personally cover the remaining balance. Even if the original lender agrees to buy back the car, there will likely be an outstanding loan balance due. As mentioned above, you can take out a personal loan, or find ways to increase your income to pay off the remaining loan.
Once you’ve come to grips with the fact that you can’t afford your new car, you’re not stuck with it. There are steps you can take to regain control of your financial situation, without hurting your future too much (and remember, ReadyForZero can help you get your debt under control).
Image Credit: Thomas Hawk